Original Research - Special Collection: Social Economic Transformation in a Dynamic World

Customer complaints management in South Africa: A quest for service excellence

Tebogo Mogotloane, Valery Louw
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 12, No 1 | a752 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v12i1.752 | © 2023 Tebogo Mogotloane, Valery Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 June 2023 | Published: 09 January 2024

About the author(s)

Tebogo Mogotloane, Department of Public Administration, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Valery Louw, Department of Public Administration, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: The poor resolution of customer complaints in the domain of public service is often attributed to a lack of accountability, transparency, communication, leadership, competent personnel, and well-defined complaint-management policies.

Aim: This article examined the efficacy and efficiency of the processes and procedures used to carry out the customer complaints management policy within the public service.

Setting: The study focused on the Department of Employment and Labour in the Free State province.

Methods: A qualitative study design was adopted, with self-administered questionnaires used to collect data from 20 purposefully selected participants from the Department of Employment and Labour – Free State province.

Results: The research revealed several key findings. Firstly, there was a lack of consequences for subpar performance. Secondly, inadequate communication and coordination hindered the timely resolution of customer complaints, and minimal frontline staff training on the customer complaints management policy. Thirdly, it was discovered that a lack of capacity resulted in underreporting of complaints, which has a detrimental impact on how quickly and effectively customer complaints are handled.

Conclusion and contribution: The implications of this study, therefore, draw attention to redress mechanisms as a vehicle to turn around and improve public service delivery. The study recommends that the Department of Employment and Labour should consider increasing the capacity of staff in handling customer complaints, developing appropriate customer complaints management training manuals, and establishing a business unit or directorate that deals with customer complaints.


accountability; 7-Cs protocol; customer complaints; complaints management; policy implementation; public service; redress; service delivery; transparency

JEL Codes

J68: Public Policy

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions


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